Home   Kent   News   Article

Council tax set to increase as Kent County Council announces spending plans

By Paul Francis

Council tax payers face an above-inflation 5% increase in bills this year under spending plans set out by Kent County Council today.

The 4.99% increase means one of the biggest hikes in bills for several years.

The authority’s Conservative administration confirmed wide-ranging savings totalling £53m in its budget - but denied it would mean cuts to services.

Council tax bills could go up. Library image.
Council tax bills could go up. Library image.

Amid the gloomy financial situation, there was some good news as the council said controversial cuts to buses it subsidised were now off the agenda - thanks to the decision to take up the option of increasing the council tax by an additional 1% this year under the government’s decision to relax the current cap on household bills of 2%.

The 4.99% increase will mean a £59 hike for Band D homes - the average - taking the sum to £1,237.68, not including tax paid towards local councils, policing and the fire service.

For homes in Band C - of which there are the most in the county - the rate will rise to £1,100.16.

KCC leader Paul Carter said the government continued to short-change councils and it had little room to manoeuvre.

He said: “It is never easy to see council tax rise. However, our autumn consultation with the public has shown that the respondents will accept manageable council tax increases if these are used to protect frontline services.”

The 1% addition in the tax would raise £6m, a sum that failed to compensate for the loss of government grants.

KCC leader Paul Carter
KCC leader Paul Carter

Mr Carter continued: “I have an instinctive belief in lower, not higher, taxes but we have an equal concern and that is to protect and deliver effective and efficient public services.

"It is a concern that arises not just from our day-to-day roles here at County Hall but from decades of investment in schools, children and adult social care, libraries, youth services and transport.”

There was criticism from the Cllr Rob Bird, opposition leader of the Liberal Democrats. He said the council was paying for the government’s “disdain” for local councils and had failed to identify £8m of the savings needed.

He said: “Paul Carter states that he has pleaded with his Conservative colleagues in Westminster for more funding. However, it is clear that they weren’t listening or didn’t care.”

County Hall in Maidstone
County Hall in Maidstone

On the climbdown on cuts to bus services, he said: “Kent’s bus users will be relieved that there should be few cuts to subsidised services next year but the threat is still there for the following years. As always, it will be the most needy and the most vulnerable who will bear the brunt of service cuts.

“It is sad to see staff and the frontline services they provide being hit with further cuts, particularly in the wake of the Conservative councillors voting themselves an unprecedented 15% pay increase. There are unprecedented pressures on our budget and yet we are spending less money.”

On the bus cuts U-turn, Cllr Carter said the savings needed had dropped to £450,000 from £2.25m, adding: "We believe there are smarter, more responsive ways to deliver these services."

The budget plans will be voted on at a meeting on February 20.

Join the debate...
Comments |

Don't have an account? Please Register first!

The KM Group does not moderate comments. Please click here for our house rules.

People who post abusive comments about other users or those featured in articles will be banned.

Thank you. Your comment has been received and will appear on the site shortly.

 

Terms of Comments
We do not actively moderate, monitor or edit contributions to the reader comments but we may intervene and take such action as we think necessary, please click here for our house rules. If you have any concerns over the contents on our site, please either register those concerns using the report abuse button, contact us here, email multimediadesk@thekmgroup.co.uk or call 01634 227989.

Close This site uses cookies. By continuing to browse the site you are agreeing to our use of cookies.Learn More